June 18, 2014
Romania is to try a former Communist-era prison chief for crimes against humanity after dozens of political detainees were beaten and starved on his watch, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Alexandru Visinescu, 88, was the commander of the Ramnicu Sarat prison in eastern Romania between 1956 and 1963, when Communist repression against dissidents reached its peak.
The prosecutor's office said inmates died under Visinescu's charge after being subjected to "physical and mental torture" and deprived of food and medical care.
The prosecution has identified 138 people who were detained in the prison under Visinescu, including intellectuals, members of the clergy and politicians.
More than 600,000 people were sentenced and jailed in Romania for political reasons between 1945 and 1989.
Romania's Constitutional Court ruled at the end of last year that murder is not subject to the statute of limitation, opening the way for the prosecution of Communist-era crimes.
Former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife were convicted of genocide in 1989 in a makeshift trial. They were executed on December 25, 1989.
However, very few former Communist leaders and commanders have been prosecuted in Romania since the return to democracy in 1989.
The start date for Visinescu's trial has not yet been set.